The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, December 22 Through 31, 2010

Wherein we try to catch up some before we get a whole year behind.
Just to remind you where we left off, this is what happened on December 21.
And this is what happened on December 22.
I'm sick with pride over this strip as it is undoubtably the first comic strip in the long history of the art form to feature the contrabassoon in actual graphically rendered form. And of course the fact that it's being played by an elf pushes the whole thing from the realm of the unlikely into the kingdom of the utterly impossibly fantastically absurd.
Or so I thought. The above photo was sent to me by Lewis Lipnick, who for 40 years has been a bassoonist and the contrabassoonist for the National Symphony Orchestra. And once, too briefly, he was the Hanukkah Elf at the NSO Christmas Pops concert in 2005, where he played a series of Chopin pieces arranged for contra and orchestra. According to Lew's email, none of the guys in the orchestra knew he was going to show up in Hanukkah Elf duds. Lew says, "So when I walked out on stage wearing red and green tights, pixie shoes and an elf hat, the orchestra and audience both lost it. People in the hall were going nuts, and the guys in the band were laughing so hard that we had to wait for them to compose themselves before we started the piece." And the explanation for the Hanukkah Elf playing Chopin is that, obviously, Chopin's cousin twice removed wrote the Dreidel Song.

This is the kind of thing that makes the performing arts so glamorous and leaves the graphic arts in the dust.

Somehow even Christmas Eve is a little bit of a letdown after that.
I snuck downstairs at least once at 4 AM on Christmas.
This seems awfully unheartwarming for a Christmas strip.
I often read the comments left on Gocomics by readers. One that can be left under any strip on any day is "this won't end well." So I'll just say, this won't end well.
Too few comic strips with kids have them actively playing with toys, and it seems like natural territory to cover in a kid strip. A few Peanuts strips and lots of Calvin & Hobbes did it, but most kid-play, if reduced to a narrative, is probably too random and expansive to lend itself easily to the confines of a strip.
Epergne is just too fun a word not to be used in conversation at least once a week. And as an object, the epergne has an ornate Edward Gorey gruesomeness that's hard to resist.
This opens up a lot of plot possibilities, I think.
This is just a mashup of the last few strips.
We were in a restaurant last night and my wife said, "There goes a Dill hat!" And sure enough, a small child in a purple, double tasseled Dill special walked by. If I could just find one in my size I'd probably run screaming.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, January 2 2011

Time having somehow gotten ahead of me I'll post this one and work backwards to wherever I left off. Which seems appropriate for a time travel strip.

Science fiction has probably used every possible permutation of time travel, though I'm not sure when the go-back-and-slap-yourself variant might've been tried. I'd meant Petey to be a bit grimmer in his take on time travel but he ended up being kinda cheerfully fatalistic and, in the fourth panel, almost wise. He's obsessive and self conscious enough that, if he was given the power of time travel, he'd undoubtably use it to relive awkward moments and berate himself. But he wouldn't take the extra effort to go back slightly further in time to avoid that awkward moment.

I'd thought about ending this with a future-Petey showing up in the last panel with his hand raised to smack the now-Petey and the now-Petey saying, "What'd I do now?" But I didn't. And yes, I photoshopped the Petey in panel one from panel two. Either I'd screwed up the drawing of panel-one-Petey or panel-two-Petey just travelled back in time.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More Happy New Year

When I was a kid, we'd watch Guy Lombardo and at midnight, under the watchful eyes of my parents, we'd go outside, bang pot lids together and yell Happy New Year. We didn't this year; there was no Guy Lombardo so we watched the Marx Brothers and when midnight rolled around we weren't inspired enough to make a racket. Oh well.

This is an old CdS from the Post Mag and I've posted it before. These are lazy days.

Friday, December 31, 2010

From All of Us to All of You

A very happy new year! And a reminder: you've only got a few hours to take care of those Resolutions for 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Francis Pharcellus Church

I did this in 1997, on the 100th anniversary of the editorial, and I'm reposting it here from the last two year's Christmastime blog. It's all true, though I might've exaggerated the moustache.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Right now most I'm unable to access most of my computer stuff, including email, as I'm outta town, so I'm patching this together from an old post. Thank you all for all your comments, support, suggestions, jokes, complaints, insights and just for reading this stuff. I hope you all have a lovely holiday season (is that general enough to cover everybody?) and that 2011 is in every way an improvement on 2010!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac, December 20 & 21, 2010

 So this time I thought we'd view the audience instead of the Holiday Concert, and just to heighten the drama I threw in whatsername from way back when.
First let me just say that I'm a big fan of the contrabassoon. It sounds like nothing else and adds a growly undertow to some of my favorite orchestral pieces and it's physically imposing. Most instruments are evolved, not planned, and the cb is one of the more exotic developments. But you know, it does go urngk urngk.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reminder of Another Book Signing

I'll be signing whatever Cul de Sac books are put in front of me at the brand spanking new One More Page bookstore tomorrow, Monday, December 20th from 7 till 9 PM. One More Page is located at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street, #101, in Arlington VA, phone 703-300-9746, just a few blocks west of the Lee Highway exit off Route 66. The signing will likely take place right next door at the party room that's part of the condominiums upstairs. I'm told there'll be coffee and snacks and a fireplace. Everybody please come support indie booksellers in general and proprietor Eileen McGervey in particular!

One More Page pre-opening. The little paper in the window is notice of application for a liquor license. Finally, a bookstore with its priorities straight.

Today's Cul de Sac, December 19, 2010 With Bonus Almanack

 This follows nicely on Saturday's strip, which is pretty impressive as I drew the Sunday a month or so ago but only did the Saturday a few weeks back. And that's the only thing that's impressive about it really; the Sunday strip has a few good moments but it needs a stronger finish. Mr. Otterloop just didn't come through with a sharp enough zinger. But Petey's dense wad of foil makes me happy.

So here's an Almanack from 2006. Some of the jokes are outdated, but it's got a decent Christmas sweater gag and I like the Alastair Sim/Peter Billingsley mashup.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac, December 10 Through 18, 2010

Our semi-annual dash through a week's plus worth of Cul de Sac.
 Clapping rhythmically is an important social skill.
 This is a variation on a yearly purchase by Mrs. Otterloop. Last year's sweater kept displaying Halloween and the Fourth of July before finally, in a moment of great and heart-stirring beauty, erupting in Christmas.
 This was fun to draw, in a lazy kinda way.
 There's a joke in here somewhere, I'm almost sure.
 The best thing in this is: Petey stops wagging his foot in the center panel.
 I always suspected they shared a fashion sense.
 These hats exist, and people do put them on their heads.
 And they are fun to draw.
Christmas trees are likewise fun to draw. I did a whole series of Christmas Tree Almanacs, which I'll post when I get the time and Hell freezes over. Mr. Otterloop's last line is lifted from one of them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reminder of Exciting Upcoming Thing Again!

Friday the 13th on a Monday the 13th

For those interested here's the whole of the superstition cartoon that's posted on Illustration Art. I drew it for the Washington Post Weekend section back in September of 1996 and it appeared on Friday the 13th.

One particular reference is understood only if you lived in the DC area in the mid-90s. Jack Kent Cook then owned the Redskins and he was looking around for a place to build a new and better stadium. Several neighborhoods were worried about being within the event horizon of a mammoth sports arena.

The cover is watercolor; the inside pages are in colored pencils and pastel blotted with alkyd medium. And pen and ink of course.

Illustration Art

David Apatoff, a knowledgeable connoisseur and avid fan of all kinds of art who runs the blog Illustration Art, found a piece I did for the Washington Post Weekend section back in 1996 and says some awfully nice things about it. David's blog features work by a wide range of excellent artists & illustrators and is always worth reading and staring at lovingly. I'm honored to be there!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Washington City Paper Interview

Mike Rhode, the noted comics expert, historian, monster-bottler, scourge of evil everywhere & boon companion, asked me some questions which I finally answered.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac, December 9, 2010

It's been a while since Petey practiced his oboe, at least in the strip. I figure it's something he does every day whether it's mentioned in the strip or not.  Like the family eats dinner every night, but it's not funny enough to be worth mentioning. Hey, these people can't be funny all the time, you know. They've got lives of their own too.For earlier examples of Petey's musicianship, but not on the oboe, see here and here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac, December 8, 2010

This comes awfully close to "isn't that cute" territory, and would cross over with both feet if it wasn't so disgusting. I'd guess that Dill's never had a piece of clothing that wasn't a hand-me-down, so you'd think he would've noticed the crumbgutters sooner. And that's a word I'm hoping to foist on the English language in a big way, so watch for five solid weeks of crumbgutter jokes in early 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Book Signing

I'll be signing whatever Cul de Sac books are put in front of me at the brand spanking new One More Page bookstore on Monday, December 20th from 7 till 9 PM. One More Page is located at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street, #101, in Arlington VA, phone 703-300-9746, just a few blocks west of the Lee Highway exit off Route 66. Everybody please come support indie booksellers in general and proprietor Eileen McGervey in particular!

One More Page pre-opening. The little paper in the window is notice of application for a liquor license. Finally, a bookstore with its priorities straight.

Today's Cul de Sac, November 29 Through December 7, 2010

Jeez, you turn your back for a few days and look what happens.
 They haven't used the Dress-Up Corner at Blisshaven and this may be why.
 I had this all lettered and drawn except for Kevin's last balloon. I wrote half a dozen lines for him but nothing seemed to work until it struck me that he probably looks a lot like his dad.
Alice's eyes go all blank when she's being given a lecture, like she's in strategic retreat.
 The giant Sauron Claus eyeball seemed good enough to squeeze for a few more strips. It fits Petey & Alice's darkish view of Santa as a semi-disturbed, judgmental demigod with multiple personalities.
 I wondered about that thing too.
 I so rarely get Alice's hair right that I'm always glad when I do.
 In horror movies, the unseen is always the scariest.
 I hope this is the last mention of Santa's giant eyeball, I promise. Except for today's strip.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shapes & Colors Signing at Big Planet!

On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, I'll be signing Shapes & Colors from 7 to 9 PM at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, Maryland. Helmed by master comixtician Joel Pollack, Big Planet Comics are, of course, the premier comics shops in the DC area, its Bethesda location nestled temptingly among the fabled Thousands of Restaurants Everywhere You Look (seriously; you can't walk down the street there without somehow getting gravy or mustard all over your sleeve). All those interested are invited to line up promptly the night before at 4908 Fairmont Ave in Bethesda and please stay behind the marked police lines. For more sensible information, call 301-654-6856.

Today's Cul de Sac, November 18-28. But Not 21, 2010

My uncle Jack tells me that Cul de Sac is the first strip out of the gate with a Christmas joke. Yay!
I'd thought about doing a little arc about the Santa candle; maybe it gets left on Dad's car and melts or something. But I didn't.
Every Thanksgiving needs to be different. The simultaneous-talking word jumble was better here. And from the look of this strip and others, Mom must run a home business fixing tiny motors.
All Grandma seems to make is stuffing, deviled eggs and beet casserole. No wonder her growth was stunted.
This place may have appeared in an old Almanac "Restaurant Closings" cartoon.
Here's where I discover that bread tongs are hard to draw recognizably.
The alternate ending had Dad saying he was thankful no other diners had accidentally ingested Grandma's stuffing. Another story arc uninvestigated.
All those desserts was harder to draw than I anticipated. And who serves rice pudding at Thanksgiving anyway?
Ew, I hate to imagine what he's doing.
There's too much hatching on the slide.